By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – A development worker was arrested by combined elements of military and police on March 1 in Silay City, Negros Occidental.
Rowena Quilop, 41, administrative officer of the Center for People’s Resources and Services (CPRS) and manager of Maao Parish Multi-purpose Cooperative, was arrested by about 25 elements of the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office (NOPPO) intelligence unit and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) at the New Bacolod-Silay Airport.
According to Karapatan, Quilop arrived at the said airport at around 6:15 p.m. that day. She just returned from a training-workshop on the use of Quickbooks in Baklayan, Bohol. Her husband and two children, aged 7 and 3 years old, came to fetch her.
When the family reached the parking lot of the airport, armed individuals in plainclothes were waiting. A male and a female approached Quilop and, without introducing themselves, presented a warrant of arrest for arson. The warrant was for her alleged involvement with members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in the March 2008 burning of a trans-loading station owned by Victorias Milling Company in Toboso, Negros Occidental.
Quilop denied having knowledge of the incident but did not resist arrest. Her belongings were taken from her including one laptop computer, two USB flash drives and cash amounting to P5,050. She was made to board a police car and was brought to Silay Police Station in Silay City. Her belongings were returned to her later at the police station, except for the cash. She was detained there overnight.
Members of Karapatan-Negros, together with a legal counsel, arrived at the police station around 8:00 p.m. and accompanied Quilop and her husband to ensure that she would not be brought to any military camp for interrogation. Karapatan staff members also found out that Quilop’s name has been added to the amended charges filed against five other political prisoners in the province.
The following morning, March 2, Quilop was brought to the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office in Bacolod City where she was presented to PNP Provincial Director Allan Guisan. She was then brought to San Carlos City and presented to the Regional Trial Court Branch 59 where the charges were filed. She is now detained at the Bacolod City Provincial Jail.
Karapatan has repeatedly criticized the filing of what it describes as trumped up criminal charges against activists.
Under the new Aquino administration, human rights groups noted that the practice continues. According to Karapatan and Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (Selda), Quilop is the 28th activist who has been arrested and detained under the new administration.